Last February (in 2015), a study published in the journal Science estimated that in 2010 between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic rubbish were dumped in the world’s oceans. Although this is a frightening number, it is only a small part of the 275 million tons that were generated that year in 192 coastal countries. World production of plastics has increased some 500% since 1980, and these materials represent between 80% and 90% of maritime pollution. However, most of it stays on land, and it is in developing countries with poorer sanitation and recycling systems where the problem of plastic pollution is of particular importance. In fact, developing and emerging countries are mainly responsible for plastic pollution; according to the study in Science, of the 20 most polluting countries only the twentieth is a western developed nation, the United States.
Is it possible to conceive of a future without plastic? Some predict that the future depletion of fossil fuels will force it and that it will be necessary to develop substitutes. But even if this comes about, the end of plastics would not mean their disappearance from the Earth due to the very slow degradation of these polymers, and thus it will be necessary to also address means of decontamination. This is the background for the efforts toward the goal of achieving a world without plastic.
Living without plastic
Biodegradable plastics and bioplastics
Microbes that eat plastic
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